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Economic Opportunity Chairman Van Orden Discusses 12 Bills at Legislative Hearing, Including Bill to Improve VA Home Loan Program

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Derrick Van Orden (R-Wisc.), the Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity, delivered the following opening remarks, as prepared, at the start of the subcommittee’s legislative hearing on 12 bills to improve veteran education programs and the VA Home Loan Program:


Good afternoon,


The Subcommittee will come to order.


I welcome the witnesses and Subcommittee Members to today’s hearing.


As I have often said in this Subcommittee, we operate in a nonpartisan way with the ultimate goal of serving those who have served our country.


This legislative hearing continues in that spirit.


We have twelve important legislative proposals to consider here today. It is important to note that not all of the proposals will move forward in the process.  We hold legislative hearings to learn from VA and other groups about their views on the bill and ensure members are making informed decisions when we do, or do not, markup them up.


We value the insight provided by these stakeholders and agencies as an essential part of this process.


A number of these proposals seek to improve education programs for America’s veterans and ensure that GI bill dollars are being used responsibly.


I specifically want to highlight three of my bills that are on today’s agenda.


My first bill would modernize the requirements for Vet Success on Campus Officers (VSOCs) and allow them to have a minimum of a bachelor's degree in the relevant field of study instead of a master's degree.


This change would allow VSOCs to service more student veterans on campus and possibly allow for services to be provided to nearby student veterans on other campuses.


Another bill that I have introduced would allow individuals participating in on-the-job training or an apprenticeship to receive an increased amount of educational assistance paid during months 6-12 of the apprenticeship from 80-90%.


This is a logical way to promote non-traditional ways for veterans to explore career opportunities.


My last bill would establish a partial claim program that would bring the VA Home Loan Program on par with other programs such as FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac. This partial claim authority would be a step in the loss mitigation process before the VASP Program.


In the current high-interest environment that we are living in created by the failed economic policies of the Biden Administration, my bill would allow a veteran who is behind on their mortgage to get a loan from the federal government without having to enter into a loan modification that would make their mortgage payments too costly to afford.


The legislation would authorize VA to provide assistance without purchasing the entire property, which is a key difference from the proposed VASP expansion.


Many of you have heard me express my frustration with the idea of VA taking responsibility for as many as sixty thousand mortgages that would put the American taxpayers on the hook when there are foreclosures to the tune of $16 billion.


My bill would allow VA to provide limited assistance and includes mechanisms to encourage repayment as soon as the veterans are able.


I look forward to working with the minority and my friends in the Senate to see if we can find a better way to help these veterans without destroying the VA Home Loan Program.


At this hearing, we will also discuss legislation to allow National Guard and Reservists, who are activated while in school, to receive a grade instead of an incomplete, provided they can reach an agreement with their school and professors.


Additional bills that we will consider would address education, home loan, and homelessness programs at VA.


I have reservations about some of the proposals on the agenda today. The witness testimony and questions from Members will hopefully address some of these issues so we can make informed decisions about whether to move these bills forward in the legislative process.


We look forward to hearing from the Members who have introduced these proposals, as well as our witnesses, on how we can continue to improve these bills and better the lives of our veterans.


I now yield to the Ranking Member for five minutes for his opening remarks.
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